Rehan Allahwala

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

A few years back a common friend, Amile Gulzar, a young Pakistani from Lahore who does business in Dubai and is also a lawyer, introduced me online from Dubai to Rehan Allahwala, a remarkable man of Pakistani origin who has deeply impressed me. Some details about him are given in the links below :

Rehan is an entrepreneur, having become millionaire at a very young age, and is also a philanthropist. But what has really impressed me is his staunch secularism.

In this connection, I may narrate an incident.

Among his other philanthropic activities, run by his Rehan Foundation, Rehan has started a school in Karachi, Pakistan in Korangi campus which aims at making the students, mostly from poor backgrounds, financially self reliant.

I am a totally secular person, and have always supported inter-faith harmony. One way of doing so is that though a Hindu, for the last 25-30 years I have observed Roza ( fast ) for one day during the holy month Ramadan ( or Ramzan ), usually on the last Friday of the month, and have appealed every year ( on my Facebook page, which has almost 900,000 followers ) to all non-Muslims worldwide to do the same. This is for showing respect and solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Similarly, I appeal every year to all non-Hindus to observe fast on one day during the Hindu Navratri.

Last year I appealed to non-Hindus, particularly in Pakistan where about 96% population is Muslim, to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali by lighting at least one diya ( earthen lamp ).

There was a tremendous response from Rehan's school in Korangi, Karachi. Numerous students of the school, almost all Muslims, mailed me their photos showing them holding a lighted diya, and even the Principal of the school, Altaf Educationwala, did the same. I posted all these on my Facebook page.
I regard this as a great event. Here were Muslims in Pakistan celebrating a Hindu festival, and my guess is that Rehan saw my appeal on facebook, and told everyone in his school, including the Principal, to respond positively to my appeal.
Yesterday a lady called Moonis Ather, head of administration in Rehan Foundation, messaged me from Karachi saying that she wants to interview me, to which I readily agreed. Here is a video link of that interview :

This interview was held on my iphone, and I told Moonis that the iphone I was using for the interview had been presented to me by Rehan.

It so happened that a few years back Rehan, who was then in Dubai, asked me on my landline telephone whether I use whatsapp. I replied that I do not. He said that whatsapp was indispensable in the modern world. I told him that I was an old timer, and in my younger days there were no iphones,internet or computers, and I do not have an iphone. He immediately sent me an iphone, and told me how to use it. 
This was the iphone on which I was interviewed.

Long live Rehan Allahwala !  

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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